Thursday, July 28, 2005

In Which I Rock Out and Get Funky

Attending Lollapalooza, which took place this past weekend in Chicago's Grant Park, gave me an odd feeling I've seldom had before of being at The Center of Things. Our newspapers were full of it. They weighed in with what to do, who to see, and how to survive.

Then, turning on the television Saturday morning to check the weather forecast, we noticed it was getting mainstream media attention across the country. You will not be shocked to hear that this never, ever happens with operas, even when Renée Fleming is on the bill.

The best party in the United States of America, so they were saying, and I was going to it.

We didn't arrive until mid-afternoon, as C had class during the middle part of the day and didn't want to skip it. He's such a good boy.

The heat was heavy - in the mid-90s - but the sky was overcast and the weather wasn't so breathtakingly oppressive as it would prove to be the next day.

There was nobody vital on stage and so we strolled over to a sort of auxiliary art-and-culture area where a fashion show was going on. The clothes themselves were fairly typical, which is to say nothing to write home about, which is to say awful, but some savvy stylist did her best to distract us by piling unspun rovings onto the heads of the unfortunate Ford models who were roped into this gig.

Fashion Show, Lollapalooza, 2005

We listened for a brief while to a group named Brian Jonestown Massacre. I wouldn't say the music was memorable - an annoying mosquito-like buzz. However, I did sit up and take notice when the lead singer, who perhaps needs an adjustment in his medication, started hurling anathemas at the band on the opposite stage. They were (so I gathered) playing loud enough for him to hear, thus distracting him from giving all the proper nuances to his own performance. Apparently he was confusing Grant Park with Avery Fisher Hall.

We headed for the East Stage to stake out places for the first act C really wanted to watch, Billy Idol, and took the obligatory "Look Ma, I was there" shots. In my case, of course, it truly was necessary to take this picture or my parents would never believe I went.

Franklin, Lollapalooza, 2005
That's my Caligula shirt, by the way.

Chris, Lollapalooza, 2005
Note the shirtless frat boys in the distance who are suspiciously fond of each other.

One of the best things about not being a huge rock/pop fan at Lollapalooza was that I didn't feel guilty about not giving the performers my undivided attention. The crowd was often the better part of the entertainment. For example, these Billy Idol fans had just caught their first glimpse of him.

Audience Applauding the Entrance of Billy Idol, Lollapalooza, 2005

I actually know who Billy Idol is, which was comforting. What I hadn't realized was that his set would be like a Banned at My Catholic High School Hit Parade. He kept launching into things I half-remembered (like "Dancing With Myself") and a little light would go on in my brain.

He was fun. Lots of fun. He's not so much sexy these days as a cartoon of what sexy is, rather like Cher. I also hope I can have muscles like that at his age. Hell, I would like to have muscles like that at my age. He did his schtick to perfection, poses and grimaces and all. He also got progressively more naked which drove the crowd into a frenzy.

Billy Idol Performing, Lollapalooza, 2005
Lollapalooza's rules meant I had to work with no telephoto lens, but you get the idea.

His final song (sorry I can't remember which it was) brought out the sort of visible crowd reaction I have only seen in movies like Wayne's World. Party on, dudes and dudettes. Rah!

Approval for Bill Idol, Lollapalooza, 2005
Billllyyyy! Billllyyyyyy! Biiiiiiilllllllyyyyyy!

The Pixies were next up on the same stage, with a break of about an hour in between. We decided (wisely, at it turned out) to stay put since we had a spot near the stage. While waiting we were able to listen to Cake, performing nearby on the West Stage. I liked Cake. The lead singer had a sort of aging hippie frat boy vibe going on. Agreeably goofy.

Other people started to crowd in, waiting for the Pixies.

Waiting for The Pixies, Lollapalooza, 2005

For some people it had obviously been a long day.

Before the Pixies Set, Lollapalooza, 2005

I amused myself by shooting and shooting and shooting. (I'd brought knitting but it was very dusty and elbow room was at a premium.)

Lit Cigarette and Armband, Lollapalooza, 2005 puis, je fume.

No, that's not my arm.

Right on the dot of the hour, on came The Pixies. My biggest surprise of the day. I loved them.

The Pixies, Lollapalooza, 2005

The crowd was huge, and much more dense than Billy Idol's, but they were remarkably sober, agreeable, and happy. You can see what a wonderful setting Grant Park is, bordered on the west side by the famous Michigan Avenue "wall" of uniform skyscrapers.

Watching The Pixies, Lollapalooza, 2005

And gee, C seemed to like them pretty well.

Chris Dancing to The Pixies, Lollapalooza, 2005

Which was the general reaction.

Girl Dancing to The Pixies, Lollapalooza, 2005

I started playing with long exposures to try to capture some of the energy through blur.

The Crowd Sings with The Pixies, Lollapalooza, 2005

By the end of the set, some people were positively manic. And I could well understand.

Final Applause for The Pixies, Lollapalooza, 2005

We left after The Pixies. On the way out, C and I stopped to photograph each other near a planting of bushes that had been illuminated. Cool colored light, eh?

Chris, Saturday Night at Lollapalooza, 2005

After we'd left the festival grounds, I took a shot of C by one of Chicago's signature sights, Buckingham Fountain. The long exposure with no flash or tripod meant blur, but I still like it.

Chris Near Buckingham Fountain, Lollapalooza, 2005

Sunday, I must confess, was less enjoyable. We got all geared up and went down there, and lasted about 30 minutes. The crowd had changed. Fewer goofyhappy music lovers, more Lincoln Park snobs and arrogant college students strutting around with their cell phones. Security had turned nasty (although my camera had no interchangeable lenses and is clearly not a professional model, they still didn't want to let me take it in). And it was 107 degrees out.

We walked onto the field in front of the East Stage, which felt like a frying pan. Dust was flying through the air. It was still two hours before the next act we wanted to see. I turned to C, who was frowning, and said, "What are you thinking?"

"I want to go home," he said. And we did.

Just that brief time out in the heat brutalized us. When we got home, C fell into an exhausted sleep. I laid down next to him and read the final 400 or so pages of the latest Harry Potter. A good book, a cool room, C snuggled up on my shoulder. There are certainly worse ways to end a weekend.


Anonymous said...

Wow!, Y'all had a day!

That fashion show–such an offensive way to use roving. Why was there a fashion show at Lollapalooza, anyway? Auxiliary indeed!

O-o-o-h Franklin, I want a Caligula shirt. Damn, I bet they aren't around anymore.

Don't envy Billy Idol. A lot of guys I know are all having liposuction, then take steroids. Hmmph! Whatever age you are, you look great! And C (who's a cutie), has been finding you attractive for a year now. Hey!

I'm a Pixies fan. You know, there are bands I would love to see, but I won't, because of the crowd they attract.

All in all, your pics are fab, especially the one of Grant Park. I tell ya', Chicago has always paid attention to it's architecture.

xmasberry said...

sounds like a fantastic weekend! it's great when you try something new and enjoy it also. i am a Cake fan and got to see them live at the Big Ass Show a few years ago. at least for a little while. until someone threw a shoe on stage and it hit the singer, who had already told people to stop throwing stuff. that's when they cut the set EXTREMELY short.

Anonymous said...

(Clue regarding final Billy Idol song: "With a Rebel L, she cried, 'LLL, LLL, LLL'.")

Anonymous said...

If you liked the Pixies, I'd suggest getting their recent album "Best of." Just don't make the mistake of leaving it in your car CD player, then forgetting that it's there, and then turning it on and your kids hearing "MOTHERFUCKER."

I'm just sayin'.

goblinbox said...

NICE POST! So thorough, so comprehensive! I feel as if I'd been there myself!

Once I was the lead singer in a blues band, and we played in a crappy bar in Ottumwa, Iowa. And someone actually threw a glass ashtray at the stage!

Anonymous said...

Wow, the Pixies. Cool. Glad you had fun.

Calvin said...

I'm glad you guys had a good time. Nice pictures of the both of you. I rather like Billy Idol. I remember when he was at the height of his fame and the video came out (I forget the song) where he was in the boxing ring humping the floor. I tell you, that sent this queer over the edge. I'm not familiar with The Pixies. Isn't it nice to have someone to snuggle with?! C loves him some Franklin.

Anonymous said...

Hey there. Sorry it took me so long to respond to this great post. I'm so glad you enjoyed the Pixies. They are a guilty pleasure of which I haven't partaken in too long. They're great. But I also love Frank Black's solo work (or at least his early stuff -- I think he's family) so what do I know?

Don't know diddly about Idol, although I was in highschool when people were going apeshit about him the first time -- Billy Idol at Lollapalooza? -- wait a minute? What's going on here? That seems wrong. oh well.

But CAKE rules!

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! I live for The Pixies. They are fabulous and am thrilled to hear you loved em' too. Woo-whoooo!!! I love you Frank Black.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I'm a little behind the 8-ball...but I had to post when I saw that no one ELSE had commented regarding the frat boys shot:

Is it me, or are they, uh, perhaps putting a BIC to something naturally grown? AND, more's the pity that a straight girl had to notice...that one kid is rearranging the furniture! Check him out. White shorts dude. Totally making sure it's still there.

Anonymous said...

Ok, my bad: Franklin commented in his caption to that picture. I guess I didn't know that "suspiciously fond" is Chicagoese for "smokin' dope". I'm from upstate NY. What can I say?

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